Career or Job: Which Do You Have?

If you look around online or in the bookstore, or if you get into conversations with people at parties and other events, you get the idea that a “career” is where all the action is. Your career is almost like a life separate from your own. Your career can be on the fast track. It can be derailed. It can stagnate. Blossom. But the important thing, it would seem, would be that you at least have one at all. If you don’t, then reams of coaches, resume-writing specialists, articles, websites, magazines, books, and high school guidance counselors are there to nudge you to get yourself one!

If you’re unhappy or unfulfilled, the gurus will assure you that it’s just that you’re in the wrong career. It most assuredly does not mean that you should bow out of having a career at all!

We know of people we graduated from high school with, and that some of them seemed to “go somewhere,” and others did not. You might hear things like “Remember Mary? She has a wonderful career!” or perhaps “Too bad about Hank, just working away at that job at the auto body shop. You’d think he’d want to go back to school and get a career.”

What’s the difference between a job and a career? Some people say that a job leads to nothing but more of the same, while a career leads to advancement, promotions, and more money. Other people say that within a career, you have jobs. In other words, the career is the journey, and the jobs are the stepping stones. Still others say that a career is intentional. It’s planned, nurtured, and attended to. A job is mindless – you show up, do as you’re told, and go home.

I say that the answer lies within your own attitude. If you like what you’re doing and want to continue indefinitely, it’s a career. If you don’t like it, it’s a job, no matter how far that ladder stretches above and below you.

For all we know, Mary had a nervous breakdown and quit her career to write her book. And Hank might be in absolute bliss – he loves working on cars all day, and his job never interferes with his time with his family during the evenings and on weekends.

And now for the question: Do you have a career, or do you have a job?